Monday, August 10, 2015


Do you ever feel like you don't quite belong?  Like you can't just be who you really are with people?  Like people aren't showing their true selves to you either?  Like life is just a big show you put on for the people around you?

Sometimes that is how I felt in my previous neighborhood.  Like I couldn't go out in my yard without doing my hair or wearing matching clothes because the neighbors would see me.  Like I had to dress and act a certain way to fit in.  Maybe it was just my not quite upper-middle class neighborhood with jewelry parties and fake designer purses, perfect lawns and perfect families.  Even though I looked the part (except for the fake designer purses), I always felt uncomfortable.  We were friendly with the neighbors and were invited to the parties, but our family chooses not to drink alcohol and sometimes that made us feel awkward when everyone else was drinking.  (I know, who needs peer pressure in their thirties?)

Moving to the country has changed some of that.  First of all, there is only one house we can see from our yard and it is distant enough that we certainly cannot tell what the neighbor is wearing if we see them.  So this means I do go out in the yard in my pajamas.  Whenever I want.  Without combing my hair sometimes.  And I do not have to worry about what anyone else thinks about it.  Second, the people in the country are different from the people in the almost-upper middle class neighborhoods.  They aren't living their lives to meet someone else's standards.  They are just living their lives.  There are no jewelry parties, purse parties, or over-priced kitchen tool parties for me to spend money on things I don't really want because that is what good neighbors do.  In fact, other than a graduation party for the boy "next door," there have been no parties at all except the ones hosted by my teenagers in the backyard for their friends.

No neighbors to impress also means just that.  There are no neighbors.  When I am bored or lonely, I can't just go outside and talk to the mom next door watching her kids play.  I can talk to the chickens, but that is about it.  It can get kind of lonely.  I do have a job.  In town.  With people.  So that is good, but after five years, I am missing the parties and the casual friendships that develop between neighbors.  Am I comfortable in my home and yard? Yes.  However, I want something more.  I want to belong somewhere.  I want people to be a part of my life and to be a part of their lives.  More than just the people at work.  I want to belong to my community.  Now, I just have to figure out what that community is . .

Hornets: More than just a sting . . . an Emergency!

We had friends from out of state visiting on the Fourth of July this year and we had had a nice day.  It was about 8:00 in the evening and my friend, her baby and I went outside to lock up the chickens for the night.  After locking them up, I realized their water pan was still in the yard, so I walked back over to get it and something buzzed and then stung me on the head.  It seemed to be in my hair and I yelled ouch, because it was really painful and then I moved away.  I waited a few seconds and then went back to put the water pan away and was attacked again.  This time I ran away and screamed.  I yelled for Josh, but he couldn't hear me in the house.  My friend came over and checked my hair and said there was nothing there.  We went into the house and I got some ice for my head and whined about it.

Josh and the other two guys who were visiting us got a can of wasp spray and went out to spray the hornets.  As Josh started to spray the chicken coop where he saw them buzzing around, one of them came and stung him on the arm.  Since they were so aggressive, he went and put on his fire fighter gear to protect himself from future stings.  They got a ladder and he found a pretty large bald-faced hornet's nest up in the roof of the chicken coop out of sight without a ladder.  He sprayed it pretty good and wasn't stung anymore.  As he walked back to the garage to put his fire gear away, he started feeling really hot and his heart started to beat fast.  He took off the gear and said, "I think I am having a reaction to that sting," which was odd since he had never had a reaction before. He lay down in the grass and said his nose had swollen shut and it was getting difficult to breath.  My friend sad to get him Benedryl which I did and when there was no effect in a few seconds I decided to call 9-1-1.

It seemed like it took forever, but soon his friends from the fire department started to arrive.  None of them had an Epi pen, so they started trying to take his blood pressure and pulse.  Both were too low to get a reading . . . fortunately for me, my brain totally blocked those words from reaching my consciousness.  I just sat there on the ground by his head waiting and waiting for the ambulance.  They finally arrived and loaded him up and gave him the Epi injection and other medicines through IV that would eventually raise his heart rate back up to a normal level.  I rode in the ambulance and my friends followed us.  It was a terrifying experience.

Even now, a week later, my heart is beating fast as I write about it.  Both Josh and I are still trying to get back to a normal state of living.  It is not easy after nearly losing a life.  There is a sense of anxiety that hangs around most of the day.  You just feel nervous all the time.  For the first few days, I was really uncomfortable anytime I couldn't see him.  When we went to the gym I was in a class in one room and he was in another part of the building, I couldn't wait for class to end so I could see that he was ok.  Five days after the incident, I had a really rough night of dreams and laying awake feeling very anxious much of the night.  The anxious feeling lasted well into the next day and I worried I might have a panic attack in the grocery store.  I have never had a panic attack before, but I was just  a wreck.  Later in the afternoon, I relaxed with a cup of chamomile tea and some fresh cut lavender on the table next to me and was much better for the rest of the day and that night.

Josh is trying to get back to normal activities. Today is one week from the event.  He is out working in the pole barn, but I see him watching for wasps.  I keep going out there to check on him or watching him out the window of the house.

As I researched online about wasp allergies and anaphlyactic reactions, I couldn't find anything about coping with daily life after a serious sting reaction.  I want to know how people cope with going outside again.  How people stop panicking everything they hear a buzz.   How people resist the urge to rip out every flowering plant from their landscaping.  How people mow their lawns without constant fear.  How people stop checking on their loved ones every 2 minutes.  I don't know the answer to these questions.  I am not there yet.  I am still living in fear and a state of anxiety.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

I am ba-ack!

Life gets so busy and before I knew it, I had nearly forgotten about this little blog!  I just spent the morning re-reading all my posts.  How nice to have documentation of our journey!  I should really keep it up!

We worked so hard those first few years getting our home settled in.  Now, we pretty much just live our daily lives without so much excitement most of the time.  I have continued to garden each year and  doubled it in size two years ago.  I still have 5 chickens and plan to get chicks for the first time this spring, so that will be a new adventure!  Last summer, we added a storage room on to the chicken coop.  This has been wonderful to have this winter.  Last winter was very harsh and getting feed from the pole barn to the coop across the yard was a major feat.  This year, I stocked the storage room with all the supplies I would need, so now I just go to the coop and have a dry clean place to stand while I care for the chickens.  It also has an actual exterior door, so no more trying to open a door out into deep snow all winter. So much nicer!

This winter has been terribly cold.  Yesterday it was 1 degree on my way to work.  Today we are supposed to see a high of 40!  Everyone is really anticipating warmer temperatures.  We had 7-8 days off from school this year due to the snow and cold temperatures.  That is a lot!

Two months ago, we joined the YMCA and have a pretty consistent routine of exercising nearly daily.  So that is keeping us occupied during this cold winter.

Josh joined the local volunteer fire department last spring and is busy with lots of classes, meetings and emergency calls.

The boys have grown up so much!  Big Dog will be 17 next month and Sweet Pea is already 13!

I hope to remember to update here on a more regular basis again!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

End of summer . . .

It has been such a busy summer!  In terms of the chickens, right after school ended a fox found his way into my chicken run by prying the fence away from the gate post.  My 5 chickens became 3.  That was quite disappointing.  I had to decide what to do.  Three chickens didn't seem to be worth the effort.  So, did I want to get more chickens or sell/give them away?  I am the kind of person who thinks about things for a long time before acting so I decided to see if I was going to keep having problems with Mr Fox.

A few short weeks after the fox episode I found myself having emergency gall bladder removal.  This put me out for most of July.  However, during my recovery I saw an ad on Craiglist for some laying hens nearby and decided to get 3 more.  It took some time for the flock to adjust to each other but they seem to have their pecking order all worked out now.

We had another chicken emergency when someone in the family didn't remember the chickens were free-ranging in the yard and decided to let our 2 Golden Retrievers loose.  Well, they did what retrievers do--caught chickens!  By the time I realized what what going on, most of the chickens had run off to hide.  DH said one of them was definately injured, she had been in both dogs's mouths and lost a ton of feathers.  We looked for a long time and located all but 2--the injured one and the youngest one.  Fortunately they both returned as the sun set.  Our injured Black Star looked pretty good from a distance and was acting fine, but we didn't trust the other chickens not to peck at her so we caught her and separated her for a bit while she healed.  We did find a pretty good size bite under her wing, so I sprayed it with Blue Coat and hoped for the best.  She healed well and has returned to the flock with no problems.  That was a relief.  I didn't want to have to kill her if she got sicker.

I recently discovered that some of the eggs are getting eaten by the chickens.  I had noticed some weak shelled eggs and gave them calcium supplements to alleviate the problem.  I think that's how the egg eating began-a weak shelled egg probably cracked and they began eating them.  I read a tip about putting golf balls in the nests.  The idea being the hens would peck them with no luck and eventually give up on pecking at eggs.  We shall see what happens.

It wasn't the best year for the garden between the drought and my surgery.  Oh well, we got a little food and fortunately we are not dependent upon it.

Tomorrow is my return to work day.  Next week school starts.  Another season passed.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Busy as a chicken . . .

Well actually chickens aren't really all that busy, but since I don't have any other animals besides dogs I went with it.  I am now the proud owner of 5 laying hens.  I get between 2-5 eggs each day, which is just enough for our family plus 1 dozen to sell to co-workers each week.  So far the chickens are working out really well.  We still need to work out an arrangement for when we go out of town as we sometimes do, but so far so good.

Both Josh and I have heard an unusual, loud, large-sounding animal noise coming from our woods in the last few weeks.  Not sure what it is.  It sure doesn't sound like coyote-we hear those frequently, but we can't even guess what this mystery animal might be.  In the meantime, we need to keep our chickens locked up as dusk falls.  I set the rooster alarm on my cell phone to make sure I don't forget.

This weekend we worked on our berry patches.  We added 4 more blueberry bushes and 3 more raspberries.  Then we mowed the grass really low and covered the whole area (70x8 feet) with plastic to keep the weeds at bay, edged it with landscape timbers and filled it with mulch.  It was a big job and I am feeling it now!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More homesteading ventures! Bawk Bawk!

I haven't written in such a long time because I felt like I really wasn't doing anything new in the homesteading arena, just busy with daily living until now!

I am getting chickens! I am really excited! My first flock is about 1 year old and I will be picking them up over the weekend. In the meantime, I have been reading all about chickens and fencing and coops. I have lots more to tell, but it's time to head off to Big Dog's band concert!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Weeds, weeds, and more weeds!

I have a long, narrow flower bed for annuals between the front porch and a sidewalk that leads to the driveway. I planted it with purple petunias back in May and now I just can't keep the weeds out. It is completely crazy. The weeds pop up like someone sprinkled the whole area with weed seeds. I scrape them off and the next day they are back again. After a few weeks of that I decided I needed to take stronger action. I didn't really want to put landscape fabric down, since that area is for annuals, but I knew if I just put cypress mulch, the weeds would just grow through. I ended up doing the same thing I did in part of the garden last week--cover the short weeds with newspaper or paperbags and then put the mulch over top of that. I sure hope it works!

After lunch I did a bunch of hoeing in the garden. The weeds were taking over again. I didn't get a chance to more straw down, but I got a lot of the weeds out and re-planted some places where the seeds hadn't come up (or possible got chopped off by the hoe). It was cool today, but really humid, so I was really sweaty. I ended the task with a washdown and soak in the cool tub. Now I need to get the lower level ready for our guest from Chile who is coming on Wednesday for a week.